First published on ESPNCricinfo.com http://www.espncricinfo.com/page2/content/story/593221.html
Choice of game
There is no reason not to go for an India vs England Test, even more so when the match is at Wankhede, a ground where India vs England has an unforgettable history. Who can forget the match back in 2006 where Shaun Udal became unlikely hero and India folded for 100 all-out. And this match has been just as topsy-turvy as the one 6 years back where
KP (Kevin Pietersen) has always been the KP (Key Performer) for England and this was no different as he played one of the best innings by an Englishman on Indian soil. His fluent 186 off 233 with 20 fours and 4 sixes, two of which were absolute crackers, was the highlight of the day. It did not matter if you were English or Indian, all spectators alike applauded the sheer magnificence of his bat whenever he scored a boundary. His century celebrations were trademark KP & there were very few people in the stands who did not join in the cheer. Interesting observation – far more people stood up for Pietersen than for other centurion Alastair Cook!
One thing you’d have changed about the day
Instead of changing one thing about today’s play, I’d change eight! The seven Indian wickets that fell like dominoes and the absolute insipid bowling earlier in the day. As an irrational, emotional India fan, it was heart-breaking to watch the team crumble like this in home conditions. And as each of the 7 wickets fell in just about 30 overs, the last shreds of optimism evaporated. As an objective cricket watcher, it was exhilarating to see 15 wickets fall one after the other in one day.
The interplay you enjoyed the most
One hit the other all over the park for seemingly easy runs, the other got him out in an anti-climax dismissal after a brilliant innings. For obvious reasons, the contest I enjoyed the most was Kevin Pietersen vs Pragyan Ojha. KP’s susceptibility against left-arm spinners has given rise to much talk but he made little of it as he hoisted Ojha for 3 sixes and the same got better off him when , on the verge of a double hundred, he offered a thin edge into Dhoni’s gloves to end a splendid innings. I’d say that in this interplay, both Ojha and Petersen returned with equal honors.
The WOW Moment for me, strangely, wasn’t on the ground as such, but in the stands. The sheer energy and enthusiasm of the crowds is infectious – The cheering, the chanting, the chatting. The insane celebrations when an English wicket fell, the rhythmic clapping when the bowlers ran in to bowl, the wild slogan shouting when an Indian batsmen took guard, the roaring applause even for singles, the standing ovation when Sachin Tendulkar entered the ground – this was the wow factor for me.
Alastair Cook. From starting the day with a solid century to ending the day on field, shining the ball & pepping his team up, captain Cook could do no wrong today. It was a treat to watch him bat as he brought up his second century of this series and lead from the front. His fielding was spirited and some sharp saves just served to increase the intensity of the other fielders. He must have gone off field a happy man with India on the mat.
Shot of the day
The Sachin Tendulkar Straight Drive. He scored only 8 runs off 2 boundaries but with his exquisite timing and clean hitting, his first four off Panesar is my shot of the day. Pietersen and Cook scored in hordes but the typical shot down the ground by the Master stands out above everything else.
There is no describing the Wankhede crowd in a few lines, that will take a book! The upper tier of the North and SRT Stands, where I was seated, was probably the most vibrant stands with the constant cheering. Even the English supporters joined in the celebrations and overall it was a cordial atmosphere with a healthy dose of bantering between the Indians and English. One of the English supports sitting with us went on to say that it was the best place to watch cricket in India!
It was disappointing, it was heart-breaking, it was frustrating as an Indian fan, but overall it was a brilliant day of Test cricket. It started with centuries by Cook and Pietersen, it went on to become a wicket-taking competition with 8 English and 7 Indian batsmen getting dismissed. So we got to see the best of both batting and bowling. Mumbai has always given us some of the most interesting Test matches in the recent years and I am hoping that one too, miraculously, becomes a close contest.
Marks out of 10
9. The one mark lost is due to the uninspiring performance from the Indian team. Gautam Gambhir has played a crucial knock so far, but otherwise it has been a collectively disappointing outing. But full marks to the atmosphere created by the fans despite the disappointment.